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Italy's art spooks show off stolen masterpieces

Published on Jan 22, 2014 11:09 AM

ROME (AFP) - Italy's cultural police, who have taken a leading role in the fight against the smuggling of antiquities, put on show a trove of recovered stolen art in Rome from Etruscan funerary urns to Renaissance paintings.

Dozens of works are being displayed in the presidential palace in the Italian capital in a special exhibition also intended to show off a police force that is called in to consult on art thefts around the world.

The force said it has the largest database of stolen works around the world - with around 5.7 million objects - and is planning to travel to Libya, Iraq and Syria in the coming months to investigate cases.

"The turnover from the illegal trade in art is fourth in the world after arms, drugs and financial products," said Mariano Mossa, head of the cultural police force.

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